GIRLS are stepping up to kick for goal.
The growing popularity of girls football in Southland was evident at ILT Stadium Southland last week with nearly 100 girls from five Southland schools turning up to take part in a girls football festival last week.
The festival for Year 7 and 8 girls was run by Football South in conjunction with Southland Football.
Football South girls and women’s development officer Tessa Nicol said the festival catered for girls who had played the sport before, but also gave the girls who had never played football the opportunity to give it a go in a friendly, non-pressurised environment.
This was the second time the festival had been held in Southland for Year 7 and 8 girls. Last year the event attracted about 60 girls.
“It is cool to see the growth in girls’ football,” she said.
The growing popularity could be contributed in part to the increased support from schools and clubs to provide opportunities for girls in the sport, she said.
Southland Football football development officer Luis Paiva said the aim of the festival was to encourage more girls into the game.
It was a good time to run the festival with the FIFA Women’s World Cup competition on at the moment, he said.
Southland Girls’ High School (SGHS) pupil Gabby Wisely (12) said she played football for her school, a football club and was a member of a representative team.
“I play because it is fun and I like making friends in the team.”
Faith McKay, also of SGHS, said she had never played football before coming to the festival.
“I wanted to learn new skills and it was good to play another sport.”
It had been a fun experience and she was now considering taking up the sport, she said.
A Southland football competition for Year 7 and 8 girls would run from July to September.